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Recruitment & Screening
Recruiting the right people is an ongoing challenge for mentoring programs. A mentor’s unfulfilled expectations can contribute to an earlier-than-expected ending of mentoring relationships. Thus, it is important for programs to realistically describe the rewards and challenges of mentoring when recruiting mentors. When imagined outcomes are not immediately realized or take a different form than what was expected, mentors may decide that the relationship does not meet their needs, and, consequently, they may end the match prematurely. Thus, when recruiting potential mentors, it is important to set realistic expectations regarding a mentoring relationship and what it can achieve.
Standard 1: Recruitment:
Recruit appropriate mentors and mentees by realistically describing the program’s aims and expected outcomes.
Program engages in recruitment strategies that realistically portray the benefits, practices and challenges of mentoring in the program.
Program recruits youth whose needs best match the services offered by the program and helps them understand what mentoring is and what they can expect from a mentoring relationship.
Enhancements—Recruitment: Program has a written statement outlining eligibility requirements for mentors and mentees in its program.
Recruiting mentors for your mentoring program should be driven by quality over quantity. Your mentor recruitment plan should focus on how well each prospective mentor can relate to the mentees in your program and "fit in" with its goals, structure and general culture. You may find, for instance, that your mentees respond better to adults who overcame similar barriers to reaching their goals than they would to adults who did not face such hurdles. You'll also need to consider the practical matters that determine how well potential mentors will adapt to your program structure and/or adhere to program expectations and boundaries, including time commitment for the mentor/mentee meetings, duration of the mentoring relationship and ongoing training and support sessions.
The key to effective mentor recruitment is to engage in recruitment strategies that realistically portray the benefits, practices and challenges of mentoring in the program. Your mentee recruitment efforts should ensure that you are recruiting youth whose needs best match the services offered by your program and helps them to understand what mentoring is and what they can expect from being in a mentoring relationship.
Standard 2: Screening:
Screen prospective mentors to determine whether they have the time, commitment and personal qualities to be an effective mentor.
Screening practices, including face-to-face interviews with prospective mentors, as well as reference and background checks, are recommended as a guideline across a wide range of mentoring programs. Reference checks are also essential for assessing the suitability of the prospective mentor for a mentoring relationship. More specifically, criminal background checks are a necessary component of screening prospective mentors and must be conducted before initiating any contact between the mentor and the mentee. The check provides a concrete method for mentoring programs to enhance the likelihood that the mentee will be protected and safe with his or her mentor.
Careful screening improves the quality of your mentors and helps ensure the safety of youth involved, while also managing your organization's level of risk and liability. But before you begin screening volunteers, your organization should develop a written policy documenting your volunteer screening process. This policy should include a list of screening elements that each prospective volunteer must complete, guidelines for selecting or disqualifying volunteers and clear instructions on interpreting a criminal history check. You should also keep in mind that information gathered through the screening process should be kept confidential. Also, always document what you find during the screening process and what decisions you make about the volunteer. This documentation verifies that your program followed your written screening policies on each prospective mentor.
There are six basic elements for screening mentor applicants:
- Written application;
- Mentor commitment of one (calendar or school) year;
- Mentor agreement to participate in face-to-face meetings with his/her mentee that average one time per week for one hour over the course of the time commitment;
- Face-to-face interview;
- At least one reference check (personal or professional) on the mentor; and
Comprehensive criminal background check, including a search of the national criminal records database along with the sex offender and child abuse registries.
Mentee Screening: Your mentoring program procedures should also include screening mentees, to include:
- Parent(s)/guardian(s) complete(s) an application and provide(s) informed consent for their child to participate;
- Parent(s)/guardian(s) and mentee agree to a commitment of one (calendar or school) year; and
Parent(s)/guardian(s) and mentee agree that the mentee will participate in face-to-face meetings with his/her mentor that average one time per week for one hour over the course of the time commitment.
- Conduct fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks on prospective mentors.
- For school-based mentoring programs, assess mentors’ interest in maintaining contact with mentees during the summer months (following the close of the school year), and offer assistance in maintaining contact.